UK’s new air pollution strategy ‘hugely disappointing’, says Labour
From The Guardian: A new clean air strategy published by the UK government has been criticised as “hugely disappointing” by the Labour Party. Other groups said it did little to tackle the dirty diesel vehicles that are the main source of toxic air in urban areas.
The new clean air strategy is a response to an EU directive on cutting harmful emissions. An air quality plan, published in July 2017, is related to a separate EU directive on cleaner air. The latter plan was condemned as “woefully inadequate” by city leaders and “inexcusable” by doctors, and was ruled illegally poor in February, the third such high court defeat for ministers.
On Thursday, the government suffered another legal blow, with the UK referred to Europe’s highest court over its failure to tackle nitrogen dioxide pollution, which mostly comes from diesel vehicles.
James Thornton, the CEO of the environmental lawyers ClientEarth who have defeated ministers three times in court, said: “Road transport is still the main source of illegal air pollution in our towns and cities. We need a national network of clean air zones (CAZs) to take the most polluting vehicles out of the most polluted areas.”
The government’s own research shows CAZs, in which cars are deterred from city centres by pollution charges, are by far the most effective solution to air pollution. But ministers refused to make them compulsory, instead making them a voluntary and last-resort option for local authorities.
Greenpeace and the British Lung Foundation both backed the call for CAZs. Paul Morozzo, at Greenpeace, also said proposed new powers for local government looked like ministers passing the buck: “It looks like local authorities are being handed responsibility without the clarity on where the resources will come from.”